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barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
12/26/17 6:04 p.m.

Putting together plans to make my 1990 single cab S10 a nicer place to be. I'm too cheap to replace the A/C that a younger me removed when all the freon fell out, so that means the next best place to start is with replacing the original stereo equipment.

So. The truck currently has a perfectly functional original tape deck, which I think looks really cool, but the lack of an aux port or the ability to play CDs, combined with my local radio's general suckiness, makes it pretty useless. I don't want anything too flashy, but I would like to have as much tuning and EQ control as I can get.

The original speakers are, in-dash: two of 4x6, behind-seat: two of 4x10. Odd sizes, thanks GM. But three out of four of them still work and one isn't even blown. Not bad. I'd like to leave them stock sized if I can, and add a scaled down "deathbox" sub behind the seat, probably built to house a 6" speaker (with a crossover of course) and 100-200w powering the little devil.

The goal is not to deafen myself or piss anyone off, but to be able to out-loud my single flowmaster 40 and sound nice while doing it. I know a bit about sound travel and such from years running live sound and building home systems, but my automotive audio experience is embarrassingly limited. I don't know what brands build the best speakers or where I can effectively cut costs by not buying the big names. I have enough room behind the bench seat for the box, and I'd really rather not cut anything up. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Suprf1y
Suprf1y PowerDork
12/26/17 6:36 p.m.

The newer Kenwood receivers sound good and you can probably get the bottom line (what I have ) for about $100. They have time settings for the cabin of different vehicles that make big a difference and almost unlimited EQ and connectibility.

This sub gets excellent reviews and doesn't need much of a box.

You can get ok speakers in those sizes, probably pretty cheap these days too.

RevRico
RevRico UltraDork
12/26/17 6:48 p.m.

Check crutchfields website. They've got a "what fits my vehicle" search function, and I'm guessing they're about to be loaded with returns and after Xmas liquidation sales. They might even have some head unit speaker combo sales going right now

 

If you can find one these days, lightning audio, which was a low end line of Rockford Fosgate, made a truck kit at one point. I haven't seen them for sale for a while though, and I'd love to buy another one. 450 watt amp, hookup kit, and a 10" sub in a truck box. Amazingly decent system in my S10, made better by the sub $250 buy in. 

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
12/26/17 7:18 p.m.

One of the big things i would look for is a head unit with a built in 'high pass filter' option. That means it wont send anything below a certain frequency to your main speakers, which is important because they are 4" by 'doesnt matter because the other number is 4' in size which means they will probably start to do nasty things when the head unit tries to play low frequencies through them. Avoiding that kind of distortion is one of the biggest things you can do to keep an underpowered system from sounding 'bad', and it's basically free because you just have to choose a cheap head unit that has that function (and you were probably already going to buy a head unit anyway). 

As far as the sub, maximizing for small space means box design is important. If you get a big enough sub and put it in a crappy box it will still make a lot of bass in a tiny place like a single cab compact pickup. But, a big sub in a small box is still pretty big. A small sub in a proportionally 'large' box is probably more of what you need. A lot of PC speaker sets and optional sound systems on low-end and mid-range cars use small subs like the 5 1/4" Superf1y linked and do really well with them as long as you're not expecting huge volume. Smaller subs also require less power to hit low notes and will probably make for a nicer 'transition' from your high pass crossover point on the main speakers to the low pass crossover point of the sub, since small subs can play a little higher frequencies without sounding like garbage. 

Believe it or not, this thing right here will make a LOT of noise in your pickup, and package almost anywhere. I've used one to run 4 speakers and 2 subs in a minivan and it still kicks. It's probably one of the best pieces of car stereo equipment in the $100 range. 

   Tiny, delightful amplifier.

If you want to simplify your install even further by not having a separate amp for the sub, you can get a high powered head unit like this one which can be configured to run one or two of its channels as a low-pass subwoofer channel.  Less wiring and similar cost to buying the Kenwood + cheap head unit, but a little less actual power.  Still more than you probably need..

For the sub itself if you don't want to build something you could look at the 'underseat subs'' which are small subs in tiny enclosures for $100-150 and usually have an amp built in. 

 

Suprf1y
Suprf1y PowerDork
12/26/17 7:59 p.m.

That woofer I linked to is nothing like one of those cheapies you mention. It's legit with an f3 of 35 hz in 7 liters

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
12/27/17 6:24 p.m.

That amp looks perfect for what I need. That being said, I will probably start without an amp and get a higher powered head unit and see how good I can get it. Did I mention I'm pretty cheap?

That little sub looks perfect. I'll be ordering one of those for sure.  I'll be building a "deathbox" for it to go in, scaled down to fit. I used one built for a 6" speaker a few years back and was pretty amazed. Hoping the slightly smaller 5.25" is just as good, since I really have a small cab to fill with sound. and the box will be tunable so it should sound great. I may have to play with the crossover frequency to get the most out of it but that shouldn't be a big deal.

Is pioneer still a good name in speakers? I know they used to be top dog but I don't see a lot of folks using them around here.

Any guidance on good, but not flashy head units? I really hate blinking lights and all that jazz. The simpler the face looks the happier I'll be.

BoxheadCougarTim
BoxheadCougarTim MegaDork
12/27/17 6:49 p.m.

Re high powered head units - most decent quality top out at about 4x15W. Yeah, they'll advertise 4x50W "music" but when you look at the RMS rating, it'll be in the 12-15W range. That's not really enough to run a sub, so you'll need to plan to at least run an amp for the sub itself.

I'd also look on fleabay and some audio forums for used speakers - it's a gamble, but usually you can get pretty good speakers for a pretty large discount. Same goes for amp and even headunits (although the good older stuff is pricey everywhere).

I just put this Pioneer HU into my Mini and am pretty happy with it. Works well, sounds decent and isn't flashy.

Suprf1y
Suprf1y PowerDork
12/27/17 6:57 p.m.

In those sizes you might be stuck with pioneer. They're ok - just.

I like the Kenwood HU's. Very reasonably priced, too.


Subwoofer build

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 UltimaDork
12/27/17 9:02 p.m.
RevRico said:

Check crutchfields website. They've got a "what fits my vehicle" search function, and I'm guessing they're about to be loaded with returns and after Xmas liquidation sales. They might even have some head unit speaker combo sales going right now

Always been a big fan of Crutchfield.  They will furnish everything you need to complete the installation.

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
12/29/17 12:25 p.m.

I looked at crutchfield. They have the best looking head unit I've seen that fits my oddball 1.5 din dash-hole. It also costs nearly as much as I had been planning to spend on the whole system so it's out at least for now.

There are other speakers besides Pioneer that are the correct proportions but nothing I am really excited about so I'll probably stick with the Pioneer idea at least for now. I'm still a couple weeks out at least before I'm really ready to order anything.

I'm pretty set on that little 5.25" sub that Superfly linked to above. And the little Kenwood amp Vigo suggested. The size of both are perfect and the prices are good too. Not sure if I want to run all the speakers (5) off the amp or just the sub and use the head unit's power for the other 4. Suggestions? I've never installed a sub or amp in a car before, but I have built plenty of boxes and wired more speakers than I care to admit.

The rear speakers face each other and are about 5' apart. Should I wire them up out of phase so they don't cancel each other out?  I know it can be a problem if they are too close together.

Does a small amp like the kenwood need a direct from battery power source? Or could I pull power from the fuse block? 

BoxheadCougarTim
BoxheadCougarTim MegaDork
12/29/17 1:38 p.m.

Actually, I would skip the rear speakers altogether and spend the additional money on the fronts. If anything, rear speakers make it harder to set up the whole system and don't necessarily improve imaging, at least not unless you have an HU or processor to take car of that.

Also, never wire anything directly to the battery without a fuse. In general, amps tend to get wired directly into the battery with a fuse and are turned on via a remote cable from the HU. You can add additional complexity by using a condenser but that would be overkill for your system anyway, plus I'm not a big fan of them.

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
12/29/17 2:31 p.m.

In reply to BoxheadCougarTim :

I'll be replacing the rear speakers when I do all of it because they are both blown and It drives me crazy. 

I would of course put a fuse in line to the sub if I have to go directly to the battery, but I was hoping I could pull sufficient power from the fuse block and use an empty fuse slot for that.

I don't need much from a head unit except good balance and eq controls. I don't use bluetooth or usb inputs if I don't have to, and most of the input will be from an older non-internet-capable ipod because I hate all the additional features that I never use anyway. But the head unit itself is the biggest wild card right now. There are so many options out there that all have things I don't need and looks that I don't care for, and I still just might add an ipod input to the factory deck anyway. All I need is FM and an aux input. Even a CD drive is just a bonus.

BoxheadCougarTim
BoxheadCougarTim MegaDork
12/29/17 2:43 p.m.

Even a small amp can draw a fair amount of current that may overtax what you can get from the fusebox. That's usually the reason people go directly to the battery.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
12/30/17 9:51 p.m.

So when you have actual info from an amp dyno like in the video i posted, it's pretty easy to use Watt's Law to figure out what your peak current flow will be (and in most of his videos now he measures to save you the math). The sub you plan to use is 4 ohms and you'll likely bridge 2 channels to that for (according to dyno video) a peak of ~200w. If you run the other two channels to 4 ohm full range speakers in the front you could assume a maximum of another 200w, although likely MUCH less since actually converting 200w into mids and highs in a small space is sort of painful and would be outrunning your sub volume by a mile, so it's something you would never actually do.. So, assume a max power of something like 300w for your setup, divide that by ~12 for the voltage the amp will operate on, and you get ~25 amps. So, yes, in your case you could wire your amp off an empty fuse slot. In fact, that's what i did when i installed that amp in a friend's vehicle powering 2 subs and 4 speakers and it's been fine for about 2 years. Peak consumption is very rare anyway because it's VERY loud. As was already mentioned, most head units put out <60w and if you turn them up all the way most people find it uncomfortable. 

The sub is rated for a max of 80w but keep in mind that most subs are rated based on heat dissipation, i.e. how long can you push how many amps through the voice coils before they start melting their insulation etc. You can drive 200w through it for an indeterminate non-infinite amount of time, although at some point you may bottom out its suspension and it will make horrible noises. It's unlikely it will just go up in smoke right away if you push 200w through it.  In all likelihood the power you will consume at actual listening levels will be way less than 25 amps. 

I agree with skipping the rear speakers. There's basically no use for them in your situation. Unplugging what is there (at the head unit end so you spend 0 extra effort) is probably your best and definitely cheapest route. 

 

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
1/2/18 3:50 p.m.

Getting closer. I have the front speakers and sub and amp in my shopping cart.

I'm leaning towards this head unit. Partially because it looks slick, partially because I like the idea of having a DVD player, and partially because 13 band EQ. The rest of the features are just so much noise as far as I'm concerned but that's ok. JVC has a good name in the industry and a 2 year warranty is cool. And my local shop has them in stock and while I don't like to preach, I do like to buy locally when I can.

The HU is more than I wanted to spend but I think based on advice here that I'll save a bit, at least initially, by skipping the rear speakers for now. Also the unit is fairly low powered so the 4 channel amp is gonna be useful.

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
1/2/18 6:58 p.m.

Can I piggy back a question in this thread?

 

When I bought the Civic it had some horrible obnoxious head unit in it. Every time you turned the car on it would go through a laser light show, changing through all the colors in the spectrum then list all the "features" on the barely legible LCD display. It would take  what seemed like an eternity before it actually booted up and you could get sound out of it. The buttons were tiny, unreadable and it was just horrible. First thing I did was rip it out. Then I beat it into the ground several times before throwing it in the trash. I've been without a radio since then.

 

My question is this.

Is there a budget HU that doesn't have a horrible start up light show, terrible unreadable LCD display and just comes on when you turn the ignition on without a stupid exaggerated start up dog and pony show? Preferably with legible and easy to use buttons? Only need an FM receiver and bonus points for Bluetooth but it's not a necessity.

I've seen nothing that looks appealing on Crutchfield.

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
1/2/18 9:37 p.m.

In reply to Nick Comstock :

I can't speak to the laser show upon startup but for budget there is this. Doesn't get much cheaper.

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
1/2/18 11:24 p.m.

In reply to Nick Comstock :

I had a JVC mech-less headunit that I loved. Lots of color choices to match your interior lighting. Front and rear USB. Front and rear 3.5mm jack. Bluetooth connectivity and mic for phone. Really nice ipod/android interface.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
1/2/18 11:37 p.m.

In reply to Nick Comstock :

It might make you sad to know that most of those "laser light shows" can be disabled in a setting on the head unit. Then again it might not.

Nick Comstock
Nick Comstock MegaDork
1/3/18 5:50 a.m.

In reply to dculberson :

Not really. I hated that thing. Plus my fingers were too big to hit the tiny buttons. I should have set it on fire before I tossed it.

SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
1/3/18 10:46 a.m.
BoxheadCougarTim said:

Re high powered head units - most decent quality top out at about 4x15W. Yeah, they'll advertise 4x50W "music" but when you look at the RMS rating, it'll be in the 12-15W range. That's not really enough to run a sub, so you'll need to plan to at least run an amp for the sub itself.

 

For the most part, this is true.  But the Sony linked above is different, it has a true 40w RMS per channel.  Basically it has a tiny class D amp built in.    Don't know if any other manufacturers have jumped on this bandwagon, but yes true high-power HU's exist.  

 

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
1/19/18 2:26 p.m.

Ok. Almost there. I picked up a JVC KW-V240BT last week and ordered the  Tang Band 5.25" sub along with the little kenwood amp and some Pioneer 4x6 speakers today. That should be all the major components. I'll need to build the box for the little sub and then figure out how I want to mount the 2 din head in a 1.5 din hole. I may have some wiring questions when it comes time to install the amp. 

ultraclyde
ultraclyde PowerDork
1/19/18 2:47 p.m.
Vigo said:

I've used one to run 4 speakers and 2 subs in a minivan and it still kicks. It's probably one of the best pieces of car stereo equipment in the $100 range. 

   Tiny, delightful amplifier.

 

Ok, wait a minute. You were running 4 speakers AND 2 subs off ONE of those amps? Please explain that to me! I'm no expert, but I used to run al my own car setups - how is that possible on a 4ch amp? 

barefootskater
barefootskater Reader
1/19/18 3:15 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde :

Only going to be running two speakers and a sub. If running the speakers on one channell and the sub off another wont work then I can just run the dash speakers off the head. It is 22Wx4 RMS which should be enough in the small cab in this S10.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
1/19/18 10:04 p.m.

Ok, wait a minute. You were running 4 speakers AND 2 subs off ONE of those amps? Please explain that to me! I'm no expert, but I used to run al my own car setups - how is that possible on a 4ch amp? 

Technically you could hook an infinite amount of speakers to just two wires (one channel). The main thing you need to know is how resistance changes in series and parallel circuits.  Most things in cars run on a somewhat fixed amount of voltage, so to control current (amps) you tailor the resistance of your circuit to control current flow. Amplifiers, whether they're internal to a head unit or self-contained, are rated to work with a certain minimum resistance in the speaker circuit. Typically it's 2 or 4 ohms as the stated minimum for a 4 channel amp like the one we're talking about. If you have a fixed voltage and you lower the resistance you increase the current flow in the circuit. A side effect of current flow is heat. Nothing is 100% efficient and typically with electronics if something is not 100% efficient then the remainder is turning into heat. 

The little Kenwood is rated to a minimum of 2 ohm resistance per channel. If you take two 4 ohm speakers and wire them in parallel, the amp will see a 2-ohm load, which is within its ratings and so perfectly acceptable.

Most standalone multi-channel amplifiers allow you to bridge 2 channels to make one more powerful channel. The little Kenwood says if you bridge two of its channels it is only 'stable' down to 4 ohms. If you were to take two 8 ohm subs and wire them in parallel you'd have 4 ohms, so no problem there. 

The amp is mainly concerned with heat buildup. When you're talking about losing 10% of 600w as heat, that's 60w. It used to hurt to touch a 60w light bulb, and that wasn't 60w of heat! The heat was just the 'inefficiency' of the bulb creating the light! If it was a 60w heater (soldering iron is an example) it would REALLY hurt! So you can imagine with an amp that is about the size of your hand how quickly heat build up can become a problem. 

The heat comes from current flow, and current flow correlates to the volume you're trying to play at. Because you're not listening at full volume all the time (or ever, for some people) you can often hook a slightly lower resistance to the amp than what it's rated for because the current through a 3 ohm circuit at low volume will still be lower than through a 4 ohm circuit at high volume. And with modern amps, your worst case scenario is usually that a red light lights up on the amp and it turns itself off for a while, so no permanent damage.

If you're familiar with electrical basics you can do a lot of playing around with car audio circuits and do some things that sound crazy but really aren't when you break it down to volts, amps, and ohms.

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